March chip sales suggest stabilizing market

May 4, 2009 – Global semiconductor sales perked up slightly in March, adding more fuel to the fire that the industry may have finally touched bottom and beginning to rebound, or at least level off.

Wales crept up 3.3% in March from the prior month to $14.7B, though still -30% below levels from a year ago. All regions except Japan enjoyed M-M growth, with Asia-Pacific (7.8%) and the US (5.1%) well above that trendline, dragged down by Japan (-9.4%), which was hurt by “a drop in the country’s economic output,” noted SIA president George Scalise, in a statement.

For the quarter, chip sales were to $44.0B, down about -16% from 4Q08 and -30% from a year ago. The US actually was the best performer from 4Q with just a -4% decline, offsetting Japan (-33%) which more than doubled the global average decline.

Scalise said the data suggested chip demand “has stabilized somewhat,” though at levels far below last year. All major product sectors showed growth in March, and he pointed to “some bright spots” of demand for smart phone and netbook PCs, but there is still no reliable visibility, particularly for broader markets such as automotive, corporate IT, and consumer electronics.

He tentatively referred any hint of recovery to 2010, suggesting it will take until then for economic stimulus measures in the US and elsewhere to take hold, boost confidence, and impact sales.


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